We got the opportunity to explore The Saboteur before its expected release early next month. We were told by the good people at Milestone Interactive that we were playing the final build on the game; however, we did not get nearly enough time to finish the game. The 60-odd minutes we had with the game were spent exploring 20th century Paris during German occupation, getting pissed, picking bar-fights, racing cars and of course indulging in game world’s favourite activity—slaying Nazi Germans.
Pandemic Studios has heavily borrowed design elements from other games and being a sandbox game, the most obvious influences seem to be Crackdown, Assassin’s Creed, Red Faction Guerrilla and template of all sandbox games— the last two GTA titles. However, what is striking about the game is that the crass nature of a typical sandbox game has been overlaid by serene visual elements. If you have ever read anything about this game before, you probably already know that the game starts off with the world shrouded in film noir-style gray, coupled with selective coloured highlights— this will be easily recognizable to those who are familiar with works of Frank Miller (Sin City, The Spirit).
For what the game lacks in originality, it kind of makes up for it by having features in numbers. There are three distinct combat styles— melee, gunfights and stealth. Melee fights or Brawling—as it is called in the game—has a pretty decent combo system punches, kicks and grapple attacks. From what we could make out— gunfight is your standard fare of firing guns and chucking grenades, combined with a few elements from a cover-shooter. Your job profile in the game dictates that stealth becomes a central element of the games combat system. Stealth is complemented by a set of sabotage skills, like the use of explosives. There are also a bunch of combat and gear upgrades in the game that are unlocked by completing certain objectives.
The game starts off with what appears to be your first sabotage job in German occupied Paris and later jump back in time to just a few days before German invasion of France. There is a lot of story-telling during this part of the game as we are introduced to the life and relations of the game’s protagonist—a womanising Irish race car driver named Sean Devlin. Despite several graphical glitches, the game kept me fairly entertained throughout with variety of events—a bar-fight, car chases, racing and of course, kindling of old flames.
Overall the game left an impression that it is typical of Pandemic’s recent work— it never takes itself too seriously, visual quality is not exactly top-notch and it is often mindless and forgiving.